Harold Perrineau reacts to how Lost fans grew to hate his character Michael Dawson despite the initially positive reception for the character.
Harold Perrineau is still surprised by how much viewers grew to hate his Lost character Michael Dawson. As one of the survivors of the Oceanic 815 plane crash, Michael was originally a likable character made even more sympathetic by his backstory. He put aside his dreams as an artist, his wife left him, she took custody of their son Walt, and suddenly he was raising a son who didn’t know him while they were stranded on a dangerous island. Yet, all the sympathy felt toward Michael evaporated when Michael murdered fellow castaways Ana Lucia Cortez and Libby Smith in an effort to get Walt back after he was kidnapped by the mysterious Others.
Perrineau shared his surprisein an interview with TV Insider. He remarked on how most of the Lost characters were not great people and that despite Michael’s many losses and struggles, he was one of the nicer characters. Perrineau noted the difficult compromises that Michael had to make, but that everything he did was to get his son back, and it taught Perrineau that he never knows how audiences will respond to his work. Check out the quote from Perrineau below:
“A lot of those characters weren’t great people, the characters that we were following. They weren’t great people. And I thought Michael was maybe the nicest person there. He didn’t try to leave his wife; his wife left him. He didn’t want to abandon his son, but he took him, and then, you know, his stepfather was like, ‘I can’t take the kid; you have to take him.’ Michael was just a dude trying to work and do his job, and then they got stuck on the island. He had to make some compromises. And everybody hated that dude. I don’t exactly understand what’s going on. I mean, he really fought for his son. So for me, it’s always kind of interesting [to] watch how audiences respond to things. It lets me know that I don’t know everything with all the different characters that I’ve done [and] all the lives that I’ve explored. You just never know.”
Why Michael Doesn’t Deserve All The Hate
Michael killing Ana Lucia and Libby is horrific, but the amount of hate toward Michael was unwarranted. Michael was a single father desperate to get his son back. He’d already lost Walt for the first ten years of his life and he wasn’t going to lose Walt again. As Perrineau discusses in the interview, Lost was about deeply flawed people. Many of these characters did horrific things on and off the Island. The difference between Michael and the other flawed characters is that Michael never got a chance to fully earn forgiveness or redeem himself.
He was brought back in season 4 as “Kevin Johnson” and sacrificed himself to help the survivors escape a freighter that was about to explode and returned as a ghost to help Hurley in season 6, but his sacrifice, remorse, and commitment to redemption were barely acknowledged. Most importantly, Michael never had a chance to reconcile with Walt who hated Michael for what he did. Michael needed to earn forgiveness from Walt but was not given that opportunity.
Other characters like Ben Linus and James “Sawyer” Ford who’d killed and manipulated innocent people had redemption arcs, earned their forgiveness, and were able to find peace in the flash sideways during Lost‘s final season. Michael never got that chance in the flash sideways and was seemingly forever punished for what he did to Ana Lucia and Libby, with the show hinting Michael had a better ending after the series ended. If a nuanced perspective can be made for characters like Ben and Sawyer, then the same should be able to happen with Michael.
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Source: TV Insider